More than you ever wanted to know about the UK's longest-running quiz show

Christmas series

The now traditional series of Christmas University Challenge ran over the Christmas period with Balliol College, Oxford beating Hull in the final.

Newnham, Cambridge

Current series

The 2022-23 student series is well under way showing at 8:30pm on Mondays.

Amol Rajan

New presenter

The 2022-23 student series has started and is currently showing at 8:30pm on Mondays. The series will be Jeremy Paxman's 29th series in charge, but it will also be his last. Series 53 of the show, scheduled to begin in 2023, will be hosted by Amol Rajan. Here's an article from The Independent on those that were initially rumoured to be taking over.

Bamber Gascoigne

60th anniversary

September 21 this year marked 60 years since the first show was broadcast. As part of that, the BBC broadcast a special documentary At 60. Watch it on iPlayer or YouTube.

Imperial

Student series

The 2021-22 student series was won by Imperial College, London who beat Reading in an extremely close match. Imperial has now won the series four times, a record they share with Magdalen College, Oxford and Manchester.

Help needed

Can you help track down more fixtures and results from the Bamber Gascoigne series? Click on a row in the table below:

SeriesStartEndWinner
121/09/196226/11/1963Leicester
203/12/196326/05/1965New, Oxford
325/08/196508/06/1966Oriel, Oxford
407/09/196603/06/1967Sussex
527/09/196724/07/1968Keele
602/08/196813/07/1969Sussex
720/07/196930/08/1970Churchill, Cambridge
825/10/197001/08/1971Sidney Sussex, Cambridge
917/10/197123/07/1972University, Oxford
1025/10/197205/09/1973Fitzwilliam, Cambridge
1131/10/197302/10/1974Trinity, Cambridge
1218/11/197431/10/1975Keble, Oxford
1307/11/197510/12/1976?University, Oxford
1417/12/1976?31/10/1977Durham
1507/11/197720/11/1978Sidney Sussex, Cambridge
1627/11/197811/02/1980Bradford
1718/02/198008/12/1980Merton, Oxford
1815/12/198007/12/1981Queen's, Belfast
1914/12/198123/01/1983St Andrews
2030/01/198318/12/1983Dundee
2120/01/198421/12/1984Open
2207/04/198630/05/1986Jesus, Oxford
2313/07/198704/09/1987Keble, Oxford

Do email me (if this fails then try smb1001 at gmail) if you can fill in any of the many gaps, although it is inevitable that many of the fixtures and results are now lost as Granada only has a handful of recordings from the series before 1980.

Lowest winning score

Record low

The ninth game of the quarter finals smashed a record when Emmanuel, Cambridge pipped King's, London by 85 points to 80, beating the lowest ever winning score by a huge 30 points. The previous lowest winning score was 115 achieved in Bristol's quarter-final victory over Darwin, Cambridge in 2019, later equalled by St John's, Oxford in 2020. It didn't take the title of lowest combined points for a show, which is still 155 for Wolfson, Cambridge vs St John's, Oxford (40-115) in the 1st round in 2020.

For comparison, the highest losing score of the Paxman era is Clare, Cambridge's 250 in the 2012 Quarter Final.

Bamber Gascoigne, 24 January 1935 – 8 February 2022

I was incredibly sad to learn of the passing of the man who will forever be associated with University Challenge. His erudition and charm were the reason that the show became the British institution that it now is, and he will be sadly missed by the thousands of contestants who appeared on the show under his care as well as millions more at home who remember his firm but scrupulously fair stewardship.

Warwick

Student champions

The 2020-21 student series was won by Warwick University, the second time that the institution has won the series. Runners-up Magdalene College, Cambridge, matched the achievements of the 1978 team that lost in an all-Cambridge final.

Children in Need

Children in Need

You can rewatch the Children in Need special on iPlayer.

Record low

Episode five of the 2019-20 series was record-breaking for all the wrong reasons. With St John's, Oxford beating Wolfson, Cambridge by 115 points to 40, it smashed the (Paxman-era) record for the lowest number of points in a game by 55 points. The previous low was 210 points, achieved in both the 2005 and 2018 series. It also tied the record for the lowest winning score.

Record breaker

The 2018-19 series took Jeremy Paxman past Bamber Gascoigne's total of 970 shows as presenter (or 971 if the 1992 Granadaland special is added). The game between Clare, Cambridge and St Edmund Hall, Oxford on 10 December 2018 was the 971st that he has chaired, consisting of (up to then) 802 regular student shows, 61 Professionals, 81 Christmas, 18 Reunited, and 9 Specials.

Retrospectives

I've recently added a page of links to articles by institutions reminiscing on their appearances over the years. If you're compiling one then start by taking a look at the series appearance tables (1962-87, and 1994-).

Leicester, 1963